Bill O’Boyle: Celebrating the Sandwich
October 16 — WILKES-BARRE — Remember when your mother asked you what you wanted for lunch and your answer was, “Just make me a sandwich.
Just a sandwich?
For many of us, there is something very special about a sandwich – much more than cold cuts and cheese sandwiched between two slices of bread.
I mean, the variations are endless.
And, generally, absolutely delicious.
The other day I was thinking about where the idea of a sandwich came from – I mean it has to be one of mankind’s greatest inventions. Right there with television, automobiles and baseball.
So who invented the sandwich? This person ranks high on the list with people like the first person to milk a cow – talk about courage. And then drink that milk! Thanks to this person.
Well, the search took me back to the year 1762. Get this – a guy named John Montagu, who had the fanciful title Earl of Sandwich, was playing cards with his buddies and he was hungry, according to the story. John, uh the earl, didn’t want to leave the card table – I guess he was on a winning streak – but he wanted to eat.
Being an earl and all that goes with that title, he asked for a portion of roast beef to be placed between two slices of bread so he could eat with his hands.
So in 1762, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, invented the meal that changed cooking forever.
And from that humble beginning, born out of a desire to keep playing cards while satisfying hunger pangs, civilization was given a gift that keeps on giving – the sandwich.
Now I have had my share of sandwiches over the years and I can tell you that I have rarely been disappointed. And I have my favorites, that’s for sure.
I really enjoy a BLT – lettuce with bacon and tomato – with mayonnaise, salt and pepper. It’s a tough sandwich to beat. But the tomato and homemade cheese on rye with mayo, salt and pepper comes next. And there really is something special about a fried baloney sandwich with onion, ketchup and melted cheese.
I could go on and talk about the virtues of many sandwiches – club sandwich, tuna, veg, grilled cheese and tomato, cheesesteak – yes it does qualify – Reuben, French dip, meatball, ham and Swiss cheese, peanut butter and jelly , chicken salad, salami and provolone, spiced ham oval and turkey – include the Thanksgiving version which includes stuffing, coleslaw, cranberry sauce and gravy – and many more.
My dad loved the sardine sandwiches with onion and ketchup – this is the one I will pass on. But I made myself an onion sandwich, sometimes adding pickles to bread and butter and salt and pepper with butter on lightly toasted bread.
This is the essence of sandwiches – they can be built any way you want and enjoyed.
Now let’s move on to the hard core a bit. Who of you likes to dip your sandwich?
That’s right, dipping – in tomato soup, or in coffee or tea?
I do. Yes, I’m a dunk-a-holic.
I have dipped almost every type of sandwich in one of the three listed above. Yes, I dunked my tuna sandwich in soup, coffee, and tea. And it’s always delicious.
I remember many lunches. from my elementary school years until adulthood, where I consciously decided to make a sandwich and dip it in tomato soup, coffee or tea. I see some of you wincing reading this. But if you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures. Admit it, you’ve all dunked cookies and donuts in coffee or milk, right? So why not dip your sandwich?
But I’m not sure the Earl of Sandwich would have liked to dabble at the card table – it could get messy if you’re not careful.
And the sandwich can always be enhanced by adding whatever you want – tomatoes, lettuce, onion, peppers, pickles, cucumbers, olives, avocado – really, it’s up to you. And ketchup, mustard, horseradish sauce, mayonnaise – everything works.
Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.
I will also say that a hoagie, a hamburger and a hot dog are sandwiches. And all rules apply when it comes to adding what you want. But never add peanut butter to a burger. I tried this once in a restaurant and had one bite and that was it. Whoever invented this could never become the Earl of Sandwich.
I have to go now, almost lunchtime.
Guess what I’m going to dip today?
Contact Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or by email at [email protected]